Crippling blow for Para athlete Herath | Sunday Observer

Crippling blow for Para athlete Herath

Priyantha Herath
Priyantha Herath

Sri Lanka’s only medal winning para athlete Priyantha Herath has been jaded by the postponement of the Paralympic Games by one year fully convinced that the move is unfavourable to him.

Herath is now 34 years old and unless he can maintain his fitness levels for one more year his ambition of finishing off his athletic career with a gold medal would fall apart.

Herath brought home a bronze medal from the Rio Paralympics making him the only para athlete to bring honour to Sri Lanka. The next Paralympics was scheduled to be held in Tokyo this year and postponed due to unavoidable circumstances.

“This will be my final opportunity to win the gold medal in my pet event at the Paralympics,” said Herath.

Former soldier Herath has won a gold medal at the Asian Para Games and silver medals at the World Championships in Dubai in 2019 and 2017. He intends participating at the next World Para Championships this year.

Now a pensioner, Herath has a personnel best throw of over 63 metres which he achieved at the Diyagama Stadium. To achieve a better performance he is practicing in a small ground at his hometown in Anuradhapura despite the curfew under the watchful eyes of his coach Pradeep Nishantha for two hours a day.

Herath was injured during the civil war against the LTTE shot in the left arm in 2008 and lost part of it. He took to throwing the javelin only in 2012 and had never done any events in athletics before that. A commendable achievement in such a short time frame according to analysts.

Currently one of his biggest hurdles is the absence of funds.

“I received a financial grant from the Ministry of Sports at the beginning, but after the minister was changed I don’t get any financial support. If I can find a sponsor now, I will be able to afford my daily supplements until the next major event,” said Herath.

He knows that the Sports Ministry can contact him on 0711 801237 but does not have much hopes.